Palm Beach authorities have been very aggressive about labeling the Firehouse Gang “little terrorists”. They also made mention of four homicides that the gang is believed to be responsible for four. However, the gang members are only being charged in one homicide case, which has left some speculation as to why.
While it’s true that there’s no standard of proof for mentioning something in the press, prosecutors don’t generally make claims that they don’t believe in without good cause. In this case, it looks like they’re going to use the case with the best evidence to get the gang members put behind bars for good.
The gang is suspected of committing four murders in the West Palm Beach area between 2015 and 2018. Authorities have used evidence of these murders to show that the gang was a criminal organization that went by the name of the Firehouse Clique. The charges included murder, racketeering, and conspiracy.
While the charges against the gang members have not changed at all, the evidence used to support those charges has changed considerably from the earliest filings and the information disseminated in the press.
Already, three of the alleged gang members have accepted plea deals. Two of them will serve five-year sentences while a third serves 3½ years. Not one of these plea agreements came with any condition to testify against the gang members. There are ten other alleged gang members who have been charged and another who isn’t facing charges but is serving a life sentence for the murder of an 18-month-old boy.
Speculation as to Why the Charges have been Amended
In cases like these, there are a couple different reasons why you would see such a drastic change in the charges. The first reason is obvious. The police suspected the gang of doing more than they were actually doing or their evidence wasn’t strong enough to warrant a prosecution. With enough charges to put the gang members away for life, simplifying the case and focusing on the best evidence becomes a viable strategy.
The second reason may be an attempt to protect ongoing criminal investigations. Since this is a RICO case, the gang’s involvement with criminal enterprises may help the state take down other gangs.
The prosecution is obligated to turn evidence against a defendant over to the defendant’s lawyer. If authorities suspect this information can be used to derail ongoing investigations, they may mothball the charges until that investigation has been completed.
Whatever the reason, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office made a big deal out of parading the gang members on stage when they were being indicted. Now that it’s come time to prosecute them, the gang members are facing penalties that are only one degree more severe than an aggravated DUI charge.
Talk to a Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re being charged with a serious crime, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm today and schedule an appointment. We can help preserve your rights and protect your interests as the state attempts to make its case. Call today to learn more.